Legislative Highlights

Posted September 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Senator Tom Hansen

I have mentioned the occasional opportunities to visit family in Chicago. That provides the chance to read one of the major Chicago news papers. It would be easy to complain as much of the ink is devoted to the various law enforcement issues. A lot of the remaining space keeps people up to speed on the happenings of the Chicago Bears and occasional reference to the Cubs and White Sox.


Legislative Highlights

A recent visit coincided with an incident that seemed to cause quite a stir across much of the country. It involved one of the food franchises called Chick-fil-A. I must admit ignorance of their existence, but apparently there are several outlets in the Chicago area. It seems that the CEO Dan Cathy indicated a personal opinion that “same-sex marriage” is not a good thing.

Some people seem to take exception to anyone having such a belief.  A plea was sent out suggesting people boycott those stores having Chick-fil-A franchise (there are about 1600 of them). A few apparently did use their personal freedom of choice to stay away but thousands of others across the nation voted with their actions by a willingness to stand in line for a Chick-fil-A meal. They demonstrated a show of support for that company.

There were several motives leading such large numbers to flock to one of those restaurants for dinner. No doubt many agree with the statement that those non-traditional marriages are wrong. Others no doubt feel it is wrong to punish an entire company just because of some statement reported made by an ordinary person.  In this instance that “ordinary person” happens to be the owner and chief executive of a successful company.

One of the Chicago city government officials attempted to mount a campaign to punish Chick-fil-A. He went so far suggesting they not issue permits for any more of such restaurants in the City. The Mayor also got into the debate and supported the alderman.

We sit out here almost a “time-zone” away from Chicago where it is interesting to see some of the reasons that businesses (those who provide jobs and tax revenue) are leaving or not choosing to start up in their city.  Does it mean that if a person from Boeing or McDonalds expressed personal feelings on any of the “social issues” should be asked to pack up and leave?

Chicago city government fairly quickly concluded that they were on the wrong side of the issue. They backed down, but by then the damage had already been done.

We now jump to South Dakota. We have consistently been ranked as one of the most business friendly states in the nation. We welcome new companies to set up shop here. We have also been willing to provide some financial incentives to encourage new investment.

Our financial incentives have mainly been in the form of our willingness to forego some of the early tax revenues that would ordinarily accumulate during the construction period. Legislators in recent years seem to have agreed with that concept.

When we give a refund of some of the sales tax and contractors excise tax we are simply giving up a source of revenue that does not presently exist. There would never be any such revenue if the company chose not to locate here.

Rep.Jim White

Another part of our Post-Secondary Education Interim Committee was designed to review our state’s technical institutes and determine how they continue to produce skilled workers, who are the backbone of our workforce.

To show the whole picture, the Technical Institutes shared some history of their industry that I found to be very interesting. In 1965 the South Dakota Legislators passed legislation to establish a system to accommodate post-secondary technical schools.

In order to start a technical school, the local community school district had to donate land and buildings. Watertown was the first community to establish a school (1965), followed quickly by Rapid City and Sturgis (1966), and Mitchell and Sioux Falls (1968). The Rapid City and Sturgis schools were combined in 1978.

Each technical institute has its own advisory committee that reviews curriculum content and technology. All programs must demonstrate a demand for graduates, and placement must meet federal standards.

Current statistics of our four technical institutes show Lake Area Tech (Watertown) with 1541 F.T.E. (full-time equivalent) and graduated 630 in 2012. Mitchell Tech had 1137 F.T.E. and graduated 421. Southeast Tech (Sioux Falls) had 2320 F.T.E. and graduated 845. Western Tech (Rapid City) had 978 F.T.E. and graduated 335. Total for all four institutes is 5976 F.T.E. and 2261 graduates in 2012.

Six months after graduation, 88 percent were located; 350 continued their education, and 1651 were available for employment. Ninety-six percent of those available for employment became employed, 85 percent were employed in their field-of-study, and 80.5 percent of all graduates remained in South Dakota.

The 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates a technical institute graduate makes a starting salary of $5,600 more than an average high school graduate. As a career average, a technical institute graduate will make $19,939 per year over a peer high school graduate. With the programs available through our state’s South Dakota Wins Initiative, I encourage anyone interested in enhancing his or her career to visit with your nearest technical institute program coordinator. A number of incentives are available to assist your decision to become a more skilled worker.

If you have any questions concerning the information presented above, please contact me. Thank you for the opportunity to be your District 22 House of Representative. You can continue to reach me at 350-5127 or rep.white@state.sd.us.